I was able to get my hands on an iPhone for a full day and went through the entire process, from taking it out of the box to activating it, to configuring it, to actually using it.
Unpacking the iPhone is pretty much like unpacking a video iPod. It comes in that sleek black and silver box with a color photo of the device on top. In the box is the phone of course, a set of headphones looking exactly like the ones for the iPod but with a mic so that you can pick up a call while listening to music, a USB cord to connect the phone to your MAC or PC, a power supply similar to the iPod but smaller, a dock station and a lint free cloth to keep your shiny new toy clean. Also included is a small booklet giving a brief description of all the basic functions but do not be fooled, the full fledged user’s guide is 124 pages long.
The first surprise was, although the phone is silver and black, all the accessories are white. You could make the case for the iPod that most people got theirs in white but as far as I know, the iPhone comes only in one color.
Activation. The phone out of the box is locked and has to be activated via iTunes 7.3. My task was to transfer an existing Verizon number out of a business account with multiple numbers. So just to make sure I wasn’t messing up with the entire account I called At&t (the only carrier for the iPhone but more on that later) and the first operator I spoke to wasn’t very knowledgeable, she told me that I had to call Apple and offered to transfer me. I realized quickly I had been transferred instead to another At&t operator on top of her game this time. She answered all my questions and I went ahead with the activation on iTunes. It took less than 10 minutes to complete the process and the old cell number was transferred to the iPhone within 30 minutes.
On one hand I was very impressed but on the other a couple of things hit me. One of the reasons I wasn’t planning on getting an iPhone to begin with was the single carrier thing. As far as New York City is concerned I would not consider using anything else but Verizon and I’m perfectly happy with my Motorola Q but besides that the minimum requirements to have an iPhone are:
1. A Mac or a PC with a USB 2.0 port and one of the following operating systems:
Mac OS X version10.4.10 or later
Windows XP Home or Professional with Service Pack 2 or later
Windows Vista Home Premium, Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate edition
2. the latest version of iTunes.
3. a high speed Internet connection (iTunes 7.3 + QuickTime is a 58Mb download)
4. a major credit card
and it left me wondering how many people were left in the cold for not meeting just one of those requirements?
Configuration. Apple’s strong suit. Not very much to report here. It’s very user friendly and fairly intuitive although I find the ringer to be too low even at maximum level and you cannot install your own custom ringer (although there appears to be a hack for MAC users).
Configuring a POP3 email account is very easy as well, as long as you have your account information.
Same goes with the Wi-Fi which was a pleasant surprise since I thought the only way to go online with an iPhone was through At&t.
Using the iPhone.
Part 1 – The Good: You’ve seen the commercials, you’ve seen the demos on TV or maybe you’ve been lucky enough to have someone at the office let you hold his or hers for a brief moment yanking it back quickly from your prying hands.
Yes, it’s that cool and having one will make you cool, for the next month or so anyway and since you’ll have to agree to a 2 years contract with At&t, I would suggest you to drink a glass of ice cold water and think before you run out the door to buy one.
The touch screen is awesome and seem to be as scratch resistant as Apple is advertising (as in: not like my video iPod). The quality of the display for video playback is amazing. I loaded an episode of LOST to check the quality and it’s all I’ve been waiting for from a next generation iPod.
The user interface for the iPod part of the phone is substantially different from the interface of the standalone iPod and I was finding it awkward to use initially until I figured out I could customize it to my needs by dragging and dropping the functions I wanted to the browser bar and all was well with the world again.
But I don’t need to lay down the selling points for you so lets go right to…
Part 2 – The Bad: I had to transfer manually the phone numbers stored in the old phone to the iPhone. Fortunately it wasn’t a whole lot of them and it gave me the opportunity to make an extensive use of the on-screen keyboard… I hate it. I thought that’s because the keys were too small and I kept missing the target but come to think of it the keys on my phone are probably smaller. So I’m not sure what the issue is but I’m all thumbs with it and got frustrated very quickly.
There’s no “Manually manage music and videos” function in iTunes for the iPhone. Consequently your phone tries to synchronize with your entire library as soon as it’s connected to your computer. That might work for most users but my library went over 200GB a while ago so the only option you have in that case is to create a playlist for the iPhone. Drag and drop the tracks and/or albums you want on your phone and then sync.
I have two issues with this. One, and that’s because I’m really anal about it but, I don’t want a playlist to appear on my iPod or my iTunes if it is there for no other reason than transfer music. it’s staring at me taunting me… no seriously it drives me nut. Two, I’ve always managed my iPods, since the first generation, manually. That’s the way I’ve always done it and I don’t see why I’m not able to do it with the iPhone.
Part 3 – The Ugly: Unfortunately the iPhone being a phone there will be times when you will have to hold it to your ear. Even if you’re using the headphones or a bluetooth headset there will be that one time when the only option is to pick up the iPhone and slap it to the side of your face and you will discover to your horror a layer of grease coming from your skin on your wonderful 3.5 inch screen. I think the cloth does a lousy job at removing it and of course the more you’ll be using it as a phone the worst the problem will get.
To conclude this extensive post, I think the iPhone is a great device but not quite a killer app. Even if all the things I mentioned previously where fixed I’m still not sure I would get one because all I’m really waiting for is an iPod that looks exactly like the iPhone but with a 100GB hard drive and I don’t necessarily need it to be a phone.
But then again I could change my mind about this.